November 1, 2023 - 9:00 pm
President Joe Biden and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer are upset that the House of Representatives won’t bend to their preferences and vote on the administration’s national security proposal as one large bill. But they should have seen this coming and shouldn’t let politics delay American aid to Israel.
Mr. Biden has asked Congress to pass a $106 billion package that would funnel money to Ukraine, Israel, border security and Taiwan. Speaker Mike Johnson, however, announced over the weekend that he would hold a stand-alone vote on $14.3 billion in aid for Israel, essentially breaking the president’s proposal into separate components.
Democrats responded with scorn. The House plan is “partisan and woefully inadequate,” Sen. Schumer said. In a statement, White House officials complained that the proposal “fails to meet the urgency of the moment by deepening our divides.”
Yet the White House should have been prepared for this development. An omnibus bill may serve a purpose if it has clear support, but if that’s not the case, voting separately on certain proposals is a reasonable compromise that allows the American people to see where their representatives stand on these important topics. Republicans are willing to go on the record in this regard. Are Democrats?
Democrats were particularly upset that Speaker Johnson included in the Israeli aid legislation a provision to pay for the proposal by clawing back money earmarked for the IRS as part of Mr. Biden’s woefully misnamed Inflation Reduction Act. “If you put this to the American people and weigh the two needs,” Mr. Johnson said on Fox News, “I think they will say standing with Israel and protecting the innocent is a more immediate need than IRS agents.”
Mr. Johnson should push forward with his proposal for no other reason than a timely vote in the House to aid Israel would pressure Sen. Schumer and the upper chamber to quickly follow. At this point, Sen. Schumer and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell have said they prefer to bundle these issues into one expansive bill. But support for that approach could erode among Senate Republicans if the House acts with brevity on aid for Israel.
As much as Democrats would prefer otherwise, the Senate and White House must compromise with the GOP House to pass legislation. If that means accepting a stand-alone vote on helping our trusted ally in the Middle East, then that’s what must be done.